Karl’s Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs

Daughter Miriam is having trouble with her jaw, so she needs soft foods. She is also off onions and garlic. I decided that a specially adapted minestrone soup would be a good choice for Sunday dinner.

Karl’s Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs

Karl’s Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs

Minestrone is a classic Italian soup that has no set ingredients. The name translates as “thick vegetable soup.” Whatever is in season is what goes into the pot. Modern versions usually include tomatoes, beans, pasta, and meat as well. In addition to these, you may add any other ingredients that you have. This is a good soup to clean out your vegetable bin of things that are not enough to use otherwise.

The last time I made this soup I added Italian sausage meatballs. This time, I decided to make the meatballs with chicken. While you could simply roll the ground chicken into balls, I wanted to add a more Italian flavor.

Note: I left out the garlic and onions in my soup. However, I left these alliums in the ingredients list for those who do not have a reason to leave them out.

I generally do not think much of kale, but I know my wife and daughters like it. There are several varieties of kale. Since this is an Italian soup I thought I should use Lacinato kale—Italian bumpy leaf kale—which is a traditional ingredient for minestrone.

Karl’s Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs


Meatballs (leave out for Vegetarian)

1 lb. ground chicken
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup sherry
1 egg
1 tsp. basil, dried
1 tsp. oregano, dried
½ tsp. rosemary, dried, ground
½ tsp. thyme, dried
½ tsp. black pepper, cracked
½ tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. baking soda


2 Tbs. olive oil
½ lb. crimini mushrooms
(Optional) 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped

2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 cup green cabbage, coarsely chopped

6 oz kale, coarsely chopped (Lacinato prefered)

2 Tbs. tomato paste
(Optional) 4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 can fire roasted tomatoes with juices (14 oz.)
1 tsp. basil, dried
1 tsp. oregano, dried
½ tsp. rosemary, dried, ground
½ tsp. thyme, dried
½ tsp. black pepper, cracked
½ tsp. Kosher salt

32 ox. low sodium chicken broth (use vegetable broth for Vegan/Vegetarian)
1 can red kidney beans with liquid
1 cup green beans cut into 2 inch pieces
1 zucchini, sliced
1 cup dried egg noodles (I used gigli)

½ cup flat leafed parsley, coarsely chopped
½ cup red bell pepper, small dice
½ cup green bell pepper, small dice


1. Put the ground chicken into a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of boiling water.

Tip: The hot water warms the meat and makes it easier to mix in the other ingredients.

2. Put the bread crumbs, sherry, egg, seasonings, and baking soda into a small bowl and mix them together.

3. Let the panade rest for five minutes and then use your hand to thoroughly mix it into the meat.

Tip: You want to add enough bread crumbs to make a fairly dry, thick mixture. This may need more or less than the ¾ of a cup of bread crumbs, depending on the size of the egg.

Note: When we have a Deli Dinner (salads and olives from La Villa Italian delicatessen) we always buy a loaf of Ciabatta. Ciabatta goes hard very quickly, so I turn any that is left into bread crumbs with a box grater. These I store in the freezer, until I need them for Italian meatballs.

4. Wet your hands and use a tablespoon measure to scoop up the meat.

Tip: Pam-ing the spoon makes it easier to get the meat out of the measuring spoon.

Note: Wetting your hands keeps the meat from sticking to your palms.

5. Roll the meat between your palms to make half inch balls and arrange them on a Pam-ed baking sheet.

Tip: Standard meatballs are one tablespoon of meat, which make one inch diameter balls. I think these are a bit big and awkward to eat in a soup.

Note: Today, I forgot this tip and made one tablespoon meatballs.

6. Broil the meatballs, two inches from the element on high, for 10-15 minutes, until they are well browned. Remove to a bowl and set aside for later.

Tip: Even at one inch, the meatballs are small enough that the bottoms brown from the heat of the pan. As a result you do not need to turn them half way through the cooking time.

7. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat.

8. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until starting to brown in spots.

Note: If you are adding onions, sauté them with the mushrooms.

9. Add the celery, carrot, and cabbage to the pot.

10. Continue sautéing the vegetables for three more minutes.

11. Add the kale and sauté for another two minutes.

12. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and cook the tomato paste in the hole in the middle, until it starts to brown.

Note: If you are using garlic, sauté it for one minute, until fragrant.

13. Stir in the can of tomatoes—with all of its juice—the basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, pepper, and salt.

Tip: Use the tomato liquid to deglaze the pot.

14. Stir in the chicken broth, the beans—with all of its liquid—the green beans, zucchini, and pasta.

Note: Beans are canned in their own cooking liquid. As a result it has a lot of bean flavor and free starch that will help thicken your soup.

15. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Tip: The pasta will absorb some of the soup’s liquid. If you feel that your soup is too thick, add some more water, chicken stock, or white wine to taste.

16. Stir in the meatballs and simmer for 5-10 more minutes.

17. Stir in most of the flat-leafed parsley and the bell peppers.

18. Simmer for five minutes more.

19. Transfer the soup to individual bowls and garnish with the remaining parsley.

1 Comment

Filed under Chicken, Main Dishes, Soups

One response to “Karl’s Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs

  1. Pingback: Karl’s Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs — Jabberwocky Stew | My Meals are on Wheels

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